Staging configuration: proscenium arch

Staging Configuration: Proscenium Arch

The Basic Structures

  • Proscenium arch refers to the structural form of a theatre where there’s a large frame or ‘arch’ that separates the stage from the audience, which usually hosts the stage curtain.
  • In proscenium arch theatres, the audience sits facing the stage in one direction, providing them a synchronised, clear, frontal view of the stage.

Configuration Utilization

  • The proscenium arch stage is usually rectangular, featuring one open side facing the audience and deep backstage areas for scenery and set transformations.
  • This staging configuration is popular due to its high visibility for a larger audience and capacity for complex, dramatic sets and stage directions.

Conceptual Understanding

  • The concept of the ‘fourth wall’, an imaginary boundary between the audience and actors, is typically used in proscenium arch stages, enabling audience to watch the performance as though through a transparent wall.
  • It’s vital for the actors on a proscenium arch stage to be aware of sight lines – the areas of the stage visible from different parts of the auditorium.

Benefits of Proscenium Arch Stages

  • Proscenium arch stages are well suited for dance shows and musicals due to the large wing space which allows large scale set pieces to move around more freely.
  • This stage type also allows for more complex lighting plots, hanging lights from the arch and the ceiling. The configuration also simplifies the execution of special effects.

Prevalence and Use

  • Proscenium stages are common in traditional theatres, including on Broadway and the West End. This design supports grand, spectacular sets, making it popular for large-scale productions.